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What Is Crab Meat?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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Crab meat refers to flesh from crabs, which are a predominately marine crustacean. There are several types, or grades, of this meat, each of which comes from a different part of the crab. This meat must be cooked, and it often has a distinct sweet flavor. Real and imitation crab meat are both used in popular recipes.

Claw crab meat is one of the least expensive and most accessible grades of crab. This meat comes from inside the legs and claws of the crab, and it turns a dark pink color when cooked. The meat located in the large pinchers of the crab is often referred to as crab fingers.

Colossal and jumbo grade crab meat refers to the meat that connects the body and the back legs, which are used for swimming. These are often the largest pieces of crab. Colossal grade meat is typically large, but only because it is taken from large crab species, like blue crab.

Lump crab may have smaller, broken pieces of jumbo grade crab. It will also contain meat from the rest of the body. Special crab meat also consists mainly of flakes of meat from the crab's body. Back fin meat, on the other hand is made up of a mixture of jumbo and special meat.

This seafood often has a very distinct flavor. Many people describe the taste of crab meat as somewhat sweet. Some choose to eat certain types of crab meat, like crab legs, with nothing but butter. Others may choose to mix this meat into a multi-ingredient dish.

When creating a dish that calls for crab meat, a recipe will usually specify whether the meat should be fresh, canned, or imitation meat. Fresh crab meat is often referred to as real crab. It is obtained directly from the crab itself. Canned crab is often thought to be inferior to fresh meat, but it is much more convenient. This type of meat is often used for food items like crab cakes.

Imitation crab meat, sometimes referred to as krab, is actually a type of Japanese processed seafood product. It is typically made from Alaskan pollock and a binder, usually egg whites. Crab flavoring is then added, and the mixture is formed into sticks. A layer of red coloring is then added, and the sticks are packaged for sale. Most supermarkets carry this type of product in their seafood sections, therefore it is much easier to obtain in some areas.

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Discussion Comments

By tigers88 — On Jan 07, 2013

What do you guys think about imitation crab?

Personally, I think it tastes OK, but not nearly as good as real crab. I will use it in a pinch, but try to avoid it mostly.

By Ivan83 — On Jan 07, 2013

Of all the canned meats I think that canned crab meat is probably the best. It actually tastes like real crab and does not get gross from being canned. I use it to make this great crab meat salad that I bring to a lot of parties and I always get compliments on it.

By profess — On Jan 06, 2013

I love to eat crab legs I just wish that it was easier.

My girlfriend and I regularly go to the casino because their buffet has a crab leg night once a week. It is great, but I feel like you end up trying to get the meat out of the shells for an hour and still feel hungry even after you have gone through dozens of crab legs. I usually end up eating some pizza or pasta just so I can feel full.

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